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Deciding on divisive fantasy players

3/22/2013

Editor's note: Our fantasy staff has identified a dozen key questions that are on the minds of fantasy owners and asked Keith Law to provide his thoughts. The questions are in bold, and Law's answers follow.


Ryan Howard: Do we throw out 2012? Does he have anything left?

I understand that Howard has had a good spring, but he's kind of had a bad few years before that, mostly against left-handed pitchers, to the point where the Phillies might be better off platooning him with Darin Ruf at first.

But two years ago, before the foot injury, he hit .266/.370/.550 (AVG/OBP/SLG) against right-handers with 30 homers. I think he can come close to that against righties again this year, maybe more in the 25-homer range. I'd be most concerned about his batting average if I owned him in fantasy.


Elvis Andrus: His drop in steals bothers many; others say he's just 24 and still improving. Your thoughts?

I understand seeing the age and assuming future improvement, but part of scouting is identifying specific areas for improvement -- like how a player will come into more power. I'm not sure where Andrus would be expected to improve; he's already a great defender, he's not going to start hitting 15 homers a year, and players don't get faster as they get older (even in their 20s).

You might argue he'll boost his batting average, but that would mean striking out less -- he doesn't strike out much as it is -- or, more likely, raising his batting average on balls in play, which reached a career high of .332 last year. Maybe he ends up a .350 BABIP guy and hits .300 for several years with 20 to 25 steals, trending down into the teens as he reaches his late 30s. But that, to me, is the only way he elevates his game substantially going forward.